Each fall, the debates start about whether to get the flu shot. I don’t participate in these debates; I just tough it out and roll up my sleeve. I don’t want to die of something easily preventable. Yes, I must get my shot, like all the vulnerable little babies and old people.
Maybe the consequences of catching the flu aren’t so dire for you. I didn’t get the vaccine each year before I had leukemia, or even in my early years with polycythemia. Let’s review all the excuses I came up with, shall we?
10) It will take half an hour out of my day, and I’m busy enough as it is. (Yes, long ago I used to be busy.)
Inside voice: Yes, it will. Tough bananas. When you come down with the flu, you’ll lose a lot more hours sleeping and whining and snivelling. And remember, I don’t have the energy to make you chicken soup.
9) My injected arm will hurt.
I.V.: Wah wah wah. Pre-empt this by doing some heavy lifting earlier that day. This way, you won’t know what’s making your arm so sore.
8) It may make me feel crummy for a few days.
I.V.: Sure, it may, but it will pass. It won’t make you feel nearly as sick for nearly as long as the flu, trust me.
7) I’ve heard irritability is a side effect.
I.V. Just think of the ways you can use this: “Sorry I was so cranky last night, honey, it was my flu shot.”
6) I never get the flu.
I.V. There’s a first time for everything. Do you want to be one of those people who starts getting her shot religiously after her first horrific bout of the flu?
5) As a doctor/teacher/cashier/gym fanatic, I’m around sick people so much that I’ve developed immunity.
I.V.: Good try. See if you believe that once one of those sick people gives you the flu.
4) It’s a personal decision.
I.V.: Sure it is, but remember your decision may affect many people around you. What if your Grade 12 daughter misses final exams because you made her sick? Or your wife has to cancel a business trip? What if you pass the virus on to someone whose body can’t fight it? How will you feel then?
3) The vaccine will give me autism.
I.V.: No it won’t. Jenny doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Even the doctor who claimed MMR causes autism has rescinded his theory. By the way, have your kids had all their vaccines? Need I remind you of last year’s Disneyland mumps outbreak?
2) How will I develop a healthy immune system if I have the protection of the vaccine?
I.V.: I can’t help you since there are too many logical flaws in your argument. In fact, you may deserve to get the flu.
1) Vaccines are for babies.
I.V.: Yes, they are, and they’re also for children and teenagers and adults, so go get one already, would you?
Finally, if you skip your flu shot, know that ER waits are long at this time of year, and hospitals are overflowing with people suffering from the flu. Maybe another day we can talk about the joys of hanging out in an overcrowded ER for 42 hours until a bed becomes available. But first, my inside voice needs a rest.